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San José Mobilizes Against H8 (Hate)
Reacting to the passage of Proposition 8 in California, San Jose area residents joined statewide and nationwide rallies in unprecedented support of marriage equality and LGBT rights on November 15, 2008. Participants vowed to “end discrimination now” and “stop hate.”
Over a thousand people rallied in front of San Jose City Hall on Saturday, November 15, 2008, joining a nationwide call to protest against Proposition 8, the November 4 ballot measure that would ban same-sex marriages in the state. The rally participants were among more than 100,000 people in scores of cities across the country who spontaneously heeded a last-minute call to join public rallies at 10:30 AM. The largest demonstrations were in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City.
The pre-election slogan “No on 8” was transformed into the post-election slogan “No H8” (No hate). Some protesters echoed Martin Luther King’s most famous speech in saying, “We shall overcome H8.” Another bore a sign declaring, “Straight against hate.”
Others specifically blamed the Mormon Church for its unwelcomed intervention in the California election supporting Proposition 8 with blatantly false and misleading statements. One person carried a sign saying, “Let’s vote on Mormon marriages.” Still others openly declared themselves as Catholics and Mormons who support marriage equality.
Unlike other political demonstrations in the South Bay which typically involve months of planning, publicity, and mobilization, there was no single organization or coalition behind this rally. “It just happened because people were shocked that a vote would take away rights,” remarked a participant.
The struggle for LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) rights has had a long history in San Francisco and other cities. But it has not been a prominent feature of politics in San Jose. Until now.
Social movements are born or boosted out of adversity. That may the silver lining in the passage of Proposition 8. Ken Yeager, the first openly-gay city council member in San Jose and the first openly-gay supervisor in Santa Clara County, acknowledged that “short-term it is a setback.” But he continued, “If we are able to have same-sex marriage legalized in California over the next several years, then it is just a bump along the way.”
Equality California, the statewide LGBT rights organization, announced on November 12 that it was launching a campaign to repeal Proposition 8 in the 2010 elections. This strategy is based on the conviction that many California voters were deceived by the deceptive and dishonest advertisements of the pro-Proposition 8 campaign. For example, several people who were interviewed on how they voted on Proposition 8 gave as a reason for voting in favor that they did not want “homosexuality to be taught in elementary schools,” which is a completely false notion created by the pro-Proposition 8 campaign.
While California voters passed Proposition 8 by a 4.4 per cent margin, Santa Clara County voters rejected the measure by an 11.4 per cent margin.
Over a thousand people lined Santa Clara Street in front of San Jose City Hall to protest the passage of Proposition 8 in California.
Crowds jammed City Hall Plaza demanding repeal of Proposition 8.
“Whose rights are next?”
“No H8” and “Equal rights.”
Rally participants lined both sides of Santa Clara Street.
Passing motorists carried signs and honked.
Passing motorists carried signs supporting the rally.
“No H8” sign from a car window.
People rally at San Jose City Hall to “stop hate.”
Protesters line Santa Clara Street in front of San Jose City Hall.